Tuesday, March 29, 2011

11 Things I've Learned About Advertising

A sentiment I often run into, is the idea that there is some kind of “Magic Bullet” in advertising … a sure fire plan or technique, a new technology, a unique approach or a sense that it's easy! While you can catch lightening in a bottle on ocassion, most simply waste a lot of money with no real understanding of the beneftis or the possibilities.

Perhaps not the  advise you want to hear but  - the “stay the course” approach, with a heaping helping of passion will see you through to repeat business and a predictbale revenue stream. Passion for your product or servicve is infectious; and it will serve you in good stead in the long run. But let’s make no mistake …it is a long run to predictable growth. These are a few tips that I'd like to pass along. Each of these tips should not be considered in isolation ...think about combining them to ensure maximum effect. 

  1. Most business owners are passionate about their products and very knowledgeable about their services. That passion and knowledge does not necessarily make you a great marketing expert. You need not hire a firm to develop a grand marketing initiative, but you should seek objective marketing insight to help create a consistent and focused marketing plan.
  2.  Avoid including too much information. The message is more effective if it is simple and focused. Anchor your message on a “substantial” incentive to attract customers and ensure that it offers real value. A sale just isn’t what it used to be! 
  3. Avoid running an ad infrequently. This is the most classic of all advertising errors. Potential customers need to see an ad multiple times. Frequent smaller ads are generally more effective than irregular large ads.
  4. Don’t draft your message around what you want to say but around what your clients need. If you are not sure what they need, ask them -- before you advertise. 
  5. Using shotgun approach, through traditional advertising channels such a TV, Newspaper or Radio do not always produce the desired effect. Consider more unique and focused channels like viral marketing, unique events, online advertising. 
  6. Don’t use poor quality images or graphics in your ads (clip art just won’t do).  Short cuts, and low cost alternatives may not be the bargin you perceive them to be – you may save some money but end up turning off customers.
  7. Many of today’s companies are uniquely online businesses. Just as traditional bricks and mortar businesses need to use the web to advertise. Conversely, online businesses need to use traditional advertising to create awareness as well. 
  8. Don’t change your advertising from month to month or from one medium to another on a whim. Run shorter advertising programs and wait until they have completed the cycle, then analyze the results and apply what you have learned to the next cycle. To smaller companies this may seem difficult but over time you will accumulate important information about your customers and selling cycles and perhaps most importantly what works and what doesn’t. 
  9. Graphic artists are not marketing specialists. Remember a graphic artist is trained to put your ads together professionally – they are not trained to synthesize your marketing goals and objectives into compelling creative concepts.  
  10. Don’t forget to set up a process to close the sale by adding value when a customer visits. You can also track the response to your ads more easily by adding a new phone number or e-mail address that are specific to a particular campaign. This will help you respond more effectively to those inquires because you will have the advantage of knowing that they are responding to your advertising. 
  11. Advertising, Marketing and Sales are not the same thing! Each plays a unique role. Marketing is the broader process for planning advertising, communications and sales programs. Advertising is the process of communicating a persuasive message to potential customers. Sales is the process of consummating that advertising process by accepting payment for goods and services.  A sales person is not a substitute for advertising or a marketing plan!
One final thought... your freinds and family don't always know what's good for you or for your conmpany. Keep that in mind when creating a mentoring group to consider marketing plans and initiatives. Trust your intuition and knowledge.

If you want feedback on a marketing initiaitve or idea  - post it on the blog and I will be happy to offer my thoughtful observations.

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